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South Asia Censorship News

2014: Jan-March

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Indian film censor jailed for accepting bribes...

What's the point of film censorship if the censors are more corrupt than the viewers?

Link Here2nd March 2014
An Indian court has sentenced an official of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to one year's imprisonment after he was caught accepting a bribe.

The anti-corruption branch of the Central Bureau of Investigation said in a statement that the anti-corruption branch laid a trap for Rajasekar on receipt of a complaint that he demanded a bribe of Rs.10,000 for viewing a film and issuing the necessary certificate. He was caught red handed accepting the bride.



Thuggery Wins...

Pakistan newspaper concedes defeat to Taliban extremists and ceases to report on terrorism

Link Here1st March 2014
When it was launched four years ago, the Express Tribune set out to become the newspaper of liberal-minded Pakistanis. It made a point of writing about everything from the relentless rise of religious extremism to gay rights.

But in recent weeks the paper has been cowed into silence by an unusually blatant display of power by muslim extremists of the Pakistani Taliban .

The paper was forced to drastically tone down its coverage last month after three employees of the media group, which includes another newspaper and television channel, were killed in Karachi by men armed with pistols and silencers on 17 January. The attack was later claimed by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a large coalition of militant groups, which accused the media group of disseminating anti-Taliban propaganda.

Immediately following the killings, the paper's editor, Kamal Siddiqi, sent an email to staff outlining the paper's new policy. Henceforth there would be nothing against any militant organisationand its allies like the Jamaat-e-Islami, religious parties and the Tehrik-e-Insaf , the rightwing party led by Imran Khan , that strongly opposes military operations against the TTP. There would also be nothing on condemning any terrorist attack , nothing against TTP or its statements and no opinion piece/cartoon on terrorism, militancy, the military, military operations, terror attacks .



Updated: The Hindus: An Alternative History...

Prescriptive Hindus get book banned after taking easy offence

Link Here24th February 2014
The publisher Penguin has been accused of cowardice after it agreed to withdraw and pulp all remaining copies of a widely-acclaimed book on Hinduism to settle a civil claim from a Hindu extremist group.

The book, The Hindus, An Alternative History , by respected American academic Wendy Doniger, was published in 2009 ironically to try and offset the view that the religion is prescriptive and shame-based and to reveal compassionate and tolerant roots.

But it provoked an angry response from Hindu extremist groups who said it took a Christian missionary approach to denigrate the faith and defamed revered religious characters.

Soon after its publication, a civil case was launched by six complainants led by Dina Nath Batra. Doniger's book had intended to show the Hindu religion in a poor light and had been disrespectful of its Gods and Goddesses, he argued.

His group's claim cited the book's cover jacket which shows Lord Krishna sitting on the buttocks of a naked woman, surrounded by naked women. He claimed that the picture had attempted to ridicule, humiliate and defame the Hindus and denigrate the Hindu traditions .

Penguin was accused of surrender and cowardice by commentators and freedom of expression campaigners after copies of the settlement were released. Under the terms of the deal, Penguin agreed to stop the distribution and sale of the book in India and destroy all remaining copies of the book. In exchange, Batra and his fellow litigants agreed to drop all civil and criminal cases against the publisher.

Doniger told friends in India she was angry about the settlement and indicated she had not been consulted about it in advance. She said For all the people who have expressed outrage over this, I am deeply grateful, she told friends by email. She said she did not believe it would be possible to stop people buying the book online, although it did not appear possible today to purchase the book on Amazon from India or via local rivals.

Update: Calling for Penguin to oppose the censorship

24th February 2013. See  article from

A group of leading Indian and international academics, including Ashis Nandy, Partha Chatterjee, Romila Thapar and Martha Nussbaum, have initiated a petition on urging Penguin to:

Contest the suit against The Hindus through the higher courts, to ensure that a strong precedent upholding freedom of expression be established.

The petition also urged lawmakers, jurists and the legal bureaucracy to undertake a revision of Indian penal laws to protect works of serious academic and artistic merit from motivated, malicious and frivolous litigation .



No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka...

Indian film censors ban Channel 4 documentary

Link Here23rd February 2014
No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka is a 2013 UK Channel 4 TV documentary by Callum Macrae.
With Rufus Sewell. YouTube icon IMDb

The film has now been refused a censor certificate for release in theaters by the Indian Central Board of Film Certification.

The censors banned the film on the supposed grounds it may strain friendly relations with Sri Lanka. Claiming that most of the visuals are of a disturbing nature .

The ban on the film will add to the controversy over the Indian government's refusal to grant a visa to the film's director, Callum Macrae to attend a premiere of the documentary in New Delhi and Mumbai in November last year.

I find it very disturbing that a country whose independent history is rooted in the struggle for democratic rights and free speech should have taken what is, in effect, an act of overt political censorship, Macrae said.

In protest against the ban -- and supported by a group of journalists in India -- the production team have decided to make the film available for free streaming online in India. It will be available from Sunday 23 February on -- both in English and in English with Hindi subtitles. The film will also be available for free in Malaysia, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

The revelation of the Indian ban follows what appears to be a concerted campaign by the Sri Lankan government to pressurize foreign governments to stop the film being seen.



Obscenely tortured legal process to confirm the bleedin' obvious...

Indian Supreme Court judges that simple non revealing nudity is not obscene

Link Here 10th February 2014
A nude or semi-nude picture of a woman cannot be called obscene per se unless it is designed to excite sexual passion or reveal an overt sexual desire, the Indian Supreme Court has held.

Quashing a case against a newspaper for publishing a nude photo of German tennis legend Boris Becker with his fiancee in 1993, a bench of justices said:

A picture of a nude/semi-nude woman, as such, cannot per se be called obscene unless it has the tendency to arouse feeling or revealing an overt sexual desire. The picture should be suggestive of deprave mind and designed to excite sexual passion in persons who are likely to see it, which will depend on the particular posture and the background in which the nude/semi-nude woman is depicted.

Only those sex-related materials which have a tendency of exciting lustful thoughts can be held to be obscene, but the obscenity has to be judged from the point of view of an average person, by applying contemporary community standards.

The bench said the photograph, in which Becker had posed nude with his dark-skinned fiancee Barbara Feltus as a mark of protest against the practice of apartheid, wants to convey message to eradicate the evil of racism and to promote love.

We should, therefore, appreciate the photograph and the article in the light of the message it wants to convey, that is to eradicate the evil of racism and apartheid in the society and to promote love and marriage between white skinned man and a black skinned woman.

When viewed in that angle, we are not prepared to say that the picture or the article which was reproduced by Sports World and the Anandabazar Patrika be said to be objectionable..

The picture was first published in the German magazine Stern and then in the Sports World and the Anandabazar Patrika in 1993. A lawyer in Kolkata then filed a complaint against the Editor, the Publisher and the Printer of the newspaper as well as against the Editor of Sports World. This complaint initiated the legal process that led to the current judgement.



Offsite Article: India's courts caught in pornophobia...

Link Here8th February 2014
Full story: Internet Censorship in India...India considers blanket ban on internet porn
Cleansing Internet browsers of smut would wipe out fundamental liberties. By Saurav Datta

See article from



Extract: An Immature Censor...

CEO of Indian Censor Board speaks of film censorship in terms of what is suitable for his 5 year old daughter

Link Here1st February 2014

It an interesting introduction to his modus operandi, the new CEO of India's censor board has described his objection to some of India's recent blockbusters is based on the reactions of his wife and five year old daughter.

In an interview to the Mumbai Mirror , Rakesh Kumar, was quoted as saying: After watching Shudh Desi Romance, my five-year-old daughter asked me, 'Dad, isn't there too much love in this movie?' More recently, I went to see Yaariyan with her and came out visibly embarrassed. Now, I have decided not to see even a UA film with my kid.

Predictably, reactions were fierce. Movies with a UA rating in India are tagged for parental guidance, as they might be inappropriate for young children. These movies have mild sex scenes, gory images of violence and crude language. Kumar, a former employee of the Indian Railways, might feel inappropriate content is making it to the big screens, however, it only serves to highlight that the censorship of movies cannot be viewed from the perspective of a five year old girl.

...Read the full article



Slave to Censorship...

12 Years a Slave gets an uncut A rating on appeal with claims that frontal nudity is the first ever allowed by Indian film censors

Link Here30th January 2014
The Indian censor board has for the first time cleared a film with scenes of female frontal nudity and shots of bare male posteriors. The Indian audience will get to see celebrated filmmaker Steve McQueen's Golden Globe-winner and Oscar-nominated in 12 Years A Slave (without the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) having used its scissors.

Director Steve McQueen is said to be thrilled:

As a filmmaker, I needed to see the lashes on the back. I needed to see the psychological effect afterward. If I hadn't done that, I would have done a disservice because that evidence had to be shown. The lynching had to be depicted in the best possible manner because it happened to hundreds of thousands of people. As someone whose ancestors experienced it, I needed to do it the way I did it.

Actor Michael Fassbender says the frontal nude shots and exposed derrieres are necessary because that's the reality of it . If we really want to do justice to Solomon's story, who are we to censor it?

The film initially faced six cuts, but a revising committee gave it a green signal without cuts. CBFC spokesperson Anjum Rajabali told dna:

12 Years a Slave was given clearance based on merit after it was felt that the scenes were necessary and that cutting them would take away from the film itself. However, this does not mean a blanket approval for nudity in adult-only films.



Feel Good Or Else...

The Indian state of Uttar Pradesh censors major news channels after Bollywood propaganda extravaganza was rubbished

Link Here21st January 2014
India's largest and most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, has been accused of taking the country's most popular English news channel, Times Now , off the air following a wave of critical reporting. The so-called ban also extended to another channel, India News . The move led to a widespread backlash, and both channels have been restored.

While the background causes for the ban were slowly built up over time, the immediate one was Times Now's dogged coverage of a star-studded Bollywood event at a time when victims of a riot in the town of Muzzafarnagar had been left in the bitter cold to fend for themselves in relief camps.

Juxtaposing images of the young Chief Minister watching nubile Bollywood starlets gyrate to the latest hit songs with images of a little child shivering in relief camps, the channels demanded to know, among other things, why the event was taking place and where the money was coming from.



Update: Very Offensive and Obscene...

Warners Movie channel in India shut down for 1 day as punishment for not making 31 cuts to a TV showing of a PG-13 rated US comedy

Link Here18th January 2014
Full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults
The Indian government has decreed that the international movie channel, WB (Warner Brothers) will have to shut down for 1 day as punishment for nota applying 31 cuts to the PG-13 rated US comedy, It's a Boy Girl Thing .

The film is rated as UA in India which is a parental guidance rating. The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) had stipulated 15 voluntary cuts and l6 compulsory cuts in the film for TV broadcast, but these were not implemented.

The film channel had apologised and said that the broadcast was a mistake but the state censors had got very heavy with the film channel claiming:

The Visuals shown are very offensive and obscene as the private parts of male and female are focused upon. The portrayal of the sex change is in bad taste and is indecent. The visuals are not fit to be viewed by children and also not suitable for unrestricted public exhibition. These visuals also denigrate women.



Update: Nepal and Singapore Recommend...

The Wolf of Wall Street

Link Here11th January 2014
Full story: The Wolf of Wall Street...Banned and cut around the world
The Wolf of Wall Street is a 2013 USA crime comedy biography by Martin Scorsese.
With Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill and Margot Robbie. YouTube icon IMDb

The Nepal Censor Board has decided to ban the film completely, forcing local distributors to apologize to their customers who had been waiting to see the movie. The censor chairman Umakanta Parajuli said that the film was banned:

Due to Vulgarity. Nepal is orthodox regarding vulgarity.

Meanwhile in Singapore, fans are calling for a total boycott of the version of the film cut by 4 minutes by the local censors. Movie goers want to be able to watch the original uncensored version.



New Broom...

New censor starts as CEO of India's film censorship board

Link Here4th January 2014
Indian Railways Personnel Officer Rakesh Kumar has taken over as the CEO of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).

It will not be a smooth sailing for Kumar because the film industry has been very critical of the CBFC in the recent past. The CBFC has had to face flak for the do's and don'ts issued to the industry. Both film makers and moralist campaigners have frequently taken the CBFC to court to dispute censorship decisions.

Like his predecessor Pankaja Thakur , Kumar is also a rank outsider in that he has not worked as a regional officer in CBFC, to have some knowledge of film censorship. The previous CEO has gone back to her parent department - customs and central excise after she completed her three-year tenure. Rakesh Kumar will also have a three-year term to serve.



Update: Censors Howl...

Indian film censors cut 6 minutes from The Wolf of Wall Street

Link Here1st January 2014
Full story: The Wolf of Wall Street...Banned and cut around the world
India's films censors have cut 6 minutes from Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street .

A source from one of the multiplex chains showing the movie said Indian audiences will be denied visuals of frontal female nudity, intercourse and masturbation as well as the dialogue, "All nuns are lesbian". These cuts, amounting to a little over 6 minutes, bring down the movie's running time from 180 minutes to 174 minutes.

Three scenes were cut: a gay orgy, co-star Jonah Hill's public masturbation sequence and the opening scene of the film that features DiCaprio blowing cocaine into a woman's derriere using a straw.

The Indian release will also include an anti-smoking disclaimer, which is now mandatory for any film that features cigarettes.

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